Whether you’re a pro web designer building websites for clients, or you’re just starting out with the 123-reg Instantsite website building tool, there are some great free resources out there to help you make a better website. Here are a few of my favourites.
Colorzilla is a free extension for the Firefox browser that helps you to find and match the right colours for your website.
Download colorzilla from the Firefox website here. Once installed, the colorzilla picker sits down in the bottom left corner of your browser.
The next time you are on a website and you want to know the RGB colour of any element, just click on the colour picker and then click on the colour you want to evaluate. Colorzilla then lets you know the RGB and Hex values of that colour.
Do you ever take images from your camera, and try to use them on your website? Modern digital cameras produce such massive, high-resolution images that using them on your website will use up all your webpace allowance. What’s worse, it will make your website really slow to load, and drain the users’ bandwidth.
Take a look at Imagemerger. This lets you resize your images to a point where you can use them on your site. Just specify by what percentage you want your images reduced by, and the site will do the rest.
How do you produce graphics for your website? If you’re a beginner then you probably try MS Paint. And if you’re you’re a pro you may have shelled out for a copy of Photoshop. Paint.net is a good compromise between the two. It’s a powerful tool that lets you carry out lots of the functions of Photoshop, but a bit easier to use. Oh, and did I mention? It’s free!
Paint.net lets you create your graphics in layers. You can change individual layers, and then save and flatten the final work. You also get the ability to save the image as lots of different file types.
Computers have lots of different screen sizes, and users set up their browsers with a range of toolbars. This means that each of us sees a slightly different amount of each website. A few weeks ago we told you about a free browser size tool from Google that lets you see what your website looks like in different screen sizes. There’s another great tool that’ll do the same, and it’s called screen-resolution.com.
To see what your website looks like in different browsers, just type your website address into the main box, choose the size that you want to investigate, and click ‘go’. Screen-resolution.com then launches a new browser that shows your website in the exact size you specified. You can immediately see how other users view your website.
Zamzar is a handy file converter that lets you… convert files! You can change almost any file to almost any other. Got a word doc that you want made into a PDF? An excel file into a jpeg? Zamzar can do it all, and also works with most video and music files too.
Here’s a list of files that Zamzar works with: .rtf; .docx; .doc .ods; .odt; .ppt; .pptx; . odp; .wpd; ps; .pub;; .xls; .xlsx; .cvs; . .wps… and so on
Zamzar also gives you a browser button that lets you download, save and convert Youtube videos.
fivesecondtest is a community of web designers who will give you feedback on your design for free. Submit your website, and it is revealed to volunteers for 5 seconds. They have to let you know what they get from your website in the first 5 seconds.
For example, you can ask them what things they remember about your website once the image has gone. Or you can ask them to click on and name the things that stand out.
This is a great way to test out your current and new designs ideas. Bounce rates are one of the biggest problems for web designers. People arriving on a website need to quickly be able to see what it’s all about; if they don’t know in the first five seconds, the chances are that they will leave.
fivesecondtest lets you quickly test whether your design is clear and easy to understand.
These are some of my favourite free tools to help build websites.
Check them out and let us know what you think. Do you know any other free online tools that you can share?
Nick Leech runs Digital Marketing Agency Euston Digital